Saturday, July 16, 2011

Groceries for the week of July 16th

Not a bad week, though we did a bit more stocking up, $70.30, but we got some really good deals.

We spent $3.58 on meat, $18.96 on dairy, $16.24 for produce, breads and grains were $10.87, and $20.65 on miscellaneous soups, nuts, and such. My best deal were cans of diced tomatoes with chili peppers for $.15 a can, and I got quarts of strawberries for $1.38 each, as well as some other good ones. I don't think I got a bad deal this week, really.

Coffee's so high that I bought a box of really cheap tea bags as an alternative to try out. We've always had green tea and herb teas around, but not as our everyday drink.

Oh, and the tomato/chili cans paired well with the corn tortillas we bought last week. I warmed up beef broth, a can of the tomatoes and chilies, added about a cup of frozen onions, and some seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper), brought it to a boil, and added some strips of corn tortillas. It was pretty good served with plain yogurt (as a substitute for sour cream) and a little salsa. It was a bit spicier than I like. Next time, I think I may try making it in chicken broth with a little chicken added and possibly some beans if I have some already cooked, or something that will soak up some of the spice. It could be made with corn, but I'm not a big fan of corn myself. Most of the recipes I've seen either use tortilla CHIPS or fry the tortillas, turning them into chips. I treated them like noodles and it worked pretty well. It was relatively low calorie; even with the tortillas and yogurt it was probably less than 200 calories per person. And cheap: I think the whole pot of soup was less than $.60, but that's because I combined several sales items.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thoughts on simplicity

Has anyone else noticed that very few of the free recipes available online are simple ones? And the supposedly thrifty ones often aren't (at least not for ordinary people)? I think some of them would add 3 or 4 extra ingredients to instructions for making a grilled cheese.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing at all wrong with options or variations on a recipe. But honestly, does tortilla soup really require 8 or 10 different spices, not to mention several other ingredients that I've never seen in tortilla soup? This may make a better version (or may not, more complex isn't always better), but it's certainly not necessary. I went to one Web site that's changed hands since I last looked, and the nicely practical, basic thrifty recipes have mostly been replaced with complicated or expensive recipes. The bulk cooking recipe Web sites used to be great too, but most of the recipes now seem to call for pricey ingredients.

I think there are several reasons for this. One is kind of like the change Mother Earth News underwent from the really genuine back to basics stuff when it began (fruit-loopy as some of it was) to the trendy stuff that only appeals to the upper middle class who have a lot more money than the poor; profit tends to push things to target them. Second is also an economic one---recipes are a great way to sell more of some item, and I suspect a lot of things online are directly or indirectly financed by the vendors. Third is also an economic one---people want to produce original versions of recipes and the "best" version so people will pay for their cookbook or classes or something. But last, I suspect a lot fewer of the working class and poor spend much time online, either from lack of computer and internet or from lack of time.

Search engines are also set up to push results of companies that pay for the favoritism up in your results. An example was when I searched for "basic bread recipe yeast". In the first 5 or 6 results there were several from prominent recipe sites that were anything but basic. None of those results was for a non-knead dough either, and while a batter bread recipe isn't great for sandwiches, it's perfectly delicious, and easier to make. Much less intimidating for someone experimenting with making bread for the first time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Groceries for the week of 07/10/2011

This past weekend, we did a bit of stocking up at one of our secondary stores, with a total of $83.34.

We spent $9.51 on dairy, $37.08 on meat and eggs, $17.11 on produce, $9.18 for grains and bread, $2 for coffee, and $8.46 for odds and ends. That's a lot of money for meat, but we got over 20 pounds of (boneless) meat, and $10 of that went to stocking up on my fat free hot dogs that were on sale.

We've needed a trip to this store to restock on a couple of items, but we'd been watching for a weekend with unusually good sales, which this was. Our best meat purchase was ground chicken for $.99 a pound. A lot of produce was at a good price. We didn't exactly need the coffee since we'd bought some last week, but the small canister was about the equivalent of $6 for the large, so more than worth it. Unfortunately, there was a one-item limit. Our best buy was a very large package of corn tortillas for $.99 (I don't remember the exact number, but I think it was 90). That's a lot to use up, even for us, but I'm planning to try tortilla soup later this week, and we have baked enchillada at least once a week, and migas for breakfast.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Groceries-week of 07/02/2011

I've been offline for a couple of weeks due to computer and car problems and exams in my class. Hopefully I can get back to posting regularly.

Just to keep the weekly record of grocery buying complete, I'm going to jump back to the weekend before last. We spent $48.29, so another payoff week. We spent $3.19 for dairy, $14.04 for meat, $15.85 for produce, $2.19 for bread, $9.44 for coffee, and $3.58 for brownie mixes.

The total would have been even lower except this included food for the 4th of July plus brownie mixes that we made up to take to someone as a thank you for help with the car. The worst deal was the coffee. The price has gone up in the last few months and seems to be staying high. I could have gone a few more weeks, but I hate to chance running short too. Next time I see a good sale, though, I'm buying 3 or 4 cans even if I have to store them on top of the cabinets. Some of the produce was a particularly good price.

However, they had apparently made too many rotisserie chickens because they had a lot of them marked down quite a bit. One of our meat purchases was a really large BBQ chicken for $4.79 (at least twice the size of what's usually sold at that price) that provided lunch and supper that day with enough meat frozen to provide at least 8 lunches for me. I consider it a great deal since it saved us the work and time and avoided turning on the oven in this heat.